When I had my original ICD implanted in 2007 due to heart failure caused by sarcoidosis, I went through the paranoia that new implantees go through but you never really hear about, and that is the fear of the device going off and shocking you, which I read feels like being kicked in the chest by a horse.
This time around I already lived with a defibrillator for seven years, so I knew that I wasn’t going to have that paranoia of the device going off again. I am an old pro at this! However, I forgot about the other paranoia of an ICD implant, and yesterday it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I ventured out yesterday with my wife to do some grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s. Despite really bad pain the last two days post surgery, today I woke up with no pain, just some discomfort and tightness in the area of the implant, and being home bound for the past few days, I really needed to get out.
As we got to the supermarket, everything was fine. I went next door to the drug store to get some supplies and then when I came into the supermarket and found my wife, I helped by getting some items that we needed. Then it happened. I was standing talking to my wife by the meat section and suddenly we were surrounded by people. A lot of people with carts, and they were boxing us in. And it happened. I felt the fear of being hit in my chest at the point of implant.
The area is tender, and with the last implant it remained tender the entire time that I had the implant, and I was always cautious of people banging into me. I always made sure never to sit on an isle seat anywhere with my left side facing out. And now here I was in the middle of what looked to me like a zombie invasion with all these zombies converging on me, trying to get at my implant, and I had, for the first time in my life a minor anxiety attack. I told my wife I had to get out of there and that I was going over to Starbucks to get a coffee and meet her in the car.
When I got to Starbucks, there was a line, and behind me in the line was a woman with a todler that was trying to negotiate with the little brat to stop pulling her hair. “Please don’t pull on mummy’s hair” she pleaded as the little imp continued to pull on his mother’s hair, and the more she pleaded rather than parent, the imp began to flail and kick and swing, all in my vicinity. And as the imp flailed, I found myself dodging and covering my chest like a woman with her breast exposed.
Eventually she left with the child when the screaming became unbearble and as she passed me to leave, I was almost doubled over to protect myself from the crazy child and I am sure that everyone in the line must have thought that I was totally coo coo.
It’s been less than a week, and I know I will get better with time, but I realized that the last surgery was no where as painful as this one, so maybe that’s why this time I am being so guarded with the implant site.